There’s something special about the combination of jerky and beer. A little bit of magic takes place whenever a good brew and a delectable hunk of meat come together that’s hard to replicate. And because we’re beyond excited about this weekend’s Jerky Fest over here at BYT, we decided to create the ultimate guide for pairing jerky with beer. By “ultimate” we mean highly subjective and probably incredibly offensive to jerky and beer snobs. I am barely qualified to be giving advice on pairings, but I was a bartender not too long ago so you’ll just have to trust that these combinations are not entirely insane. If you have complaints, feel free to leave them down in the comments. I won’t read them. I’m too busy basking in the glow of my meat / beer coma. You should be too.
Oh damn. This smells very spicy and meaty right out of the bag and then when you sniff it a little more, it’s very sweet. Gives me traditional jerky vibes. Thick and moist and chewy, this starts out meaty and ends very sweet with a little bit of smoke. This is definitely what I think of when I think of jerky.
Pairing: Oskar Blues Mamas Lil Yella Pils. I want to enjoy every succulent piece of this meat, so I want a beer that wont override the classic beer flavors, buts still quality because I’m worth it. Oskar Blues fits the bill.
Most fun ingredient: Natural Smoke Flavor
This one was given to me in a plastic bag with the brand’s name written in sharpie (Thanks BYT Events Assistant Jeremie!). It felt very moist in my hand, but it was clear as soon as I took a bite that this was dry and chewy and very very peppery. Definitely the most peppery of the bunch. This is not a subtle jerky.
Pairing: 3 Stars Peppercorn Saison. I want to bask in the pepper. I want to be wrapped in a blanket of beer and pepper and meat (yes I know this is a terrible idea).
Most fun ingredient: Sharpie
This definitely has more of a traditional jerky flavor. Sweet, meaty, but there’s something strange and almost citrusy at the end? It’s hard to pin it down. Oh yeah… It’s probably the lemon juice.
Pairing: Hmm. For some reason my heart is telling me to go with an American Pale Ale. I want something that’s more balanced, but has a little bit of a bitter or spicy bite to cut through some of the citrusy notes of the jerky (this is a sentence I never thought I would type). Not too spicy, though. I feel like a Sierra Nevada will do just fine.
Most fun ingredient: Lemon juice
Pretty moist and super light in color. This is maybe the lightest colored jerky I’ve ever seen. I was kind of taken back opening the bag. Again, I taste A LOT of lemon. Not in a bad way. It’s just very obvious. There’s a little more pepper in this one I feel and a little bit of sweetness. But it’s mostly lemon.
Pairing: Something Roasty or malty to distract me from the beer. Not to mention something darker would be a nice compliment to this very bright jerky. I’m going to go with Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout because I am an absolute madman.
Most fun ingredient: Ginger
Chewy, dry, and subtle in flavor, this does little but deliver a healthy does of umami into your face, and it does it well.
Pairing: Bell’s Two Hearted IPA
Most fun ingredient: Worcestershire Powder
Holy shit this stuff looks juicy. Not very excited to get it all over my hands. Definitely the most moist of all of Meat Crafters offerings.
Pairing: Bluejacket’s Mexican Radio. I think the smoke in Mexican Radio would compliment this well.
Most fun ingredient: Fennel seed
Spicy / Peppery
They are not kidding around. This is the spiciest of the jerky I’ve tried. It’s not insane, but it definitely packs heat. There’s a little sweetness at the top, right before the heat sets in.
Pairing: Founders All Day IPA. You’re going to want something you can drink a lot of.
Most fun ingredient: Coconut Aminos
Very moist and very salty. I don’t get the pepper at all, but plenty of salinity.
Pairing: Rowdy Rye. I need something bold and delicious to cut the salt.
Most fun ingredient: Celery Juice Powder
Spicier and more peppery than most of the others right out of the bag. Chewier. Drier. Pepper at the front, sweet in the middle, and then more pepper at the end.
Pairing: Maybe DC Brau’s Celestial Garden? Something to bring out a little more of the sweetness and balance the pepper.
Chewy and dry as hell, but damn I love that you can actually taste the garlic. The chili kind of hits you in the beginning and the disappears, which is fine because it makes room for that sweet sweet garlic.
Pairing: Bell’s Oarsman. I know DC Brau does a thing with this jerky. But I’m feeling the Oarsman.
Most fun ingredient: Garlic!!!!!
Fatty. Chewy. Leaning toward the dry side. A little saltier, but not a whole lot of flavor.
Pairing: Something with big, bold flavor. How about Stone’s Enjoy By IPA.
Most fun ingredient: “In a sheep casing”
A good mix of moist, dry and chewy. Sweet at the top and smokey at the bottom. I prefer jerky strips to stick but this is fantastic. Not very salty. Lots of flavor.
Pairing: Fat Tire. It reminds me of something my dad would like and the man loves Fat Tire. I know this isn’t helpful for you, the reader, but I feel obliged to follow my heart here.
Most fun ingredient: Dehydrated Vegetables (Including Tomato, Garlic, Onion)
A big bacon smell right out of the bag. My god this one is good. Moist, yet chewy. This is fatty and delicious and good.
Pairing: Founders Backwoods Bastard because this feels like something drunk me would love more than sober me.
Most fun ingredient: Sea salt
Very moist, with little to no chew. I can definitely taste a BBQ-ed tomato, which is certainly interesting. It even seems like there are chunks of tomatoes in the bar.
Pairing: Michelada. This is my guide and I can do whatever I want.
Most fun ingredient: Apricots
Other / Weird
Very dry and chewy. This the kind of jerky that involves actively fighting the jerky while you try to eat it. Like it’s really chewy. Good Old Bay flavor, but not too much Old Bay. Not too much salt. If it was a little more moist I’d be in love.
Pairing: Flying Dog’s Dead Rise. Go hard or go home, bro.
Most fun ingredient: Soy Sauce. It doesn’t actually use Old Bay, so that’s fun.
Sweet teriyaki right out of the bag. Damn it smells good. More moist than the pepper. Still a little chewy very sweet. Like really sweet. In a delicious way. I couldn’t eat a lot of this but I’m really enjoying it.
Pairing: Stone’s Smoked Porter
Most fun ingredient: Apple juice concentrate
Very dry. Not too chewy. Love the ending flavor. It starts off on the bland side and buildis up into something herbaceous and fun.
Pairing: Kirkland Signature Amber Ale because you cannot beat Costco.
Most fun ingredient: Lactic acid starterculture
A little drier with a more even taste.
Pairing: 3 Stars Citra Saison. Hopefully this will mix it up and bring out some fun flavors.
Most fun ingredient: Cayenne
Very dry, very chewy, but this may be my favorite of the sticks Meat Crafters offers. I think it’s the the mint, cumin, and the oregano. It speaks to me.
Pairing: B.W. Beer Works Pendulum Pilsner. I don’t want anything that will hide that sweet mint, and this is kind of an unusual pilsner, so I think it’ll be a great fit.
Most fun ingredient: Coriander. It’s a fun word.
Definitely moist. Definitely tastes like pure pepperoni.
Pairing: DC Brau’s The Corruption. This jerky tastes like pizza and this is a beer I drink a lot when I have pizza. It’s all coming together.
Most fun ingredient: Evaporated Cane Juice
Very dry and very chewy. I’m not getting the full range of kimchi favor, but this is definitely more intense than regular salty jerky.
Pairing: Whatever Korean beer you have on hand. Go wild.
Most fun ingredient: Kimchi
Damn these people really go hard with the ingredients. There’s a strong curry smell coming right out of the bag that is low-key making my mouth water. This one seems to be the smallest bit chewier than the last, but just a moist. Still, you will not be fighting the meat to get a bite. I love the curry flavor in this one. It’s bold all the way through.
Pairing: Ballast Point’s Sculpin. Something about the spice makes me feel like this would go great with a good quality IPA.
Most fun ingredient: Spinach
More spice right out of the bag. This one has a more subtle taste than the Curry Turkey, but you can definitely taste the rosemary and turmeric.
Pairing: Stillwater’s Cellar Door. The goal is to bring out some of the funk without things getting too weird.
Most fun ingredient: Dates
If you feel bad about whats happening here, 10% of the profits from this jerky is donated to a buffalo charity so thats nice. This has a great chew. The flavor is really subtle up top, but as you eat it the real meat flavor starts to come out. I don’t taste any cranberry.
Pairing: A lambic. I’m not very familiar with them, but I want to see if it could pull the cranberry out. I really want to taste some cranberry.
Most fun ingredient: Cranberries. Where are they?
It’s dried coconut.
Pairing: Oskar Blue’s Death By Coconut. You can never have too much coconut
Most fun ingredient: Coconut
If you made it all the way down here than congratulations / I’m sorry! Be sure to join us this weekend for Jerky Fest, or come hang out with us tonight at NoMa Summer Screen for a viewing of O Brother Where Art Thou? It’s going to be great.